ComEd Must Expand Efficiency Efforts Beyond Light Bulbs and Coloring Books

Commonwealth Edison, Illinois’ largest utility, must beef up its energy efficiency programs, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The ICC directed ComEd to boost its savings target by 25,000 megawatt-hours per year, or 4%, over a proposed plan. Even with the ICC’s increased target, ComEd will miss the 2% sales cut by mid-2015 as required by state law. The utility expects to cut electric use by 0.7% under its original plan. Read the article at UtilityDive.com.

“Having recently exhibited at the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance conference in Chicago,” says Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President Doug Dougherty, “I am not surprised that Commonwealth Edison is failing to meet its energy efficiency goals.” ComEd and other utilities in the Midwest have spent lots of money to encourage consumers to reduce energy usage, he explains. “But those companies focus on simple strategies to reduce energy consumption with targets as low as 2%. As a result, consumers are enticed to change light bulbs and retire old refrigerators.”

Those are laudable goals, he continues, “But if utilities are serious about reducing energy consumption, they must focus on our largest energy use—the thermal loads of buildings.” Heating, cooling and hot water make up 75% of home energy consumption. Since geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) can cut that energy use by two-thirds, utilities would be wise to recognize the consumer and utility benefits of helping ratepayers install GHPs in new and existing homes.

“Regulations imposing targets for utilities to achieve energy efficiency must include mandates to reduce the thermal loads of buildings,” Dougherty concludes. “We can nibble around the edges with light bulbs and educational coloring books, but if government and utilities are serious about reducing energy use, they MUST provide financial incentives for people to install GHPs.